- On October 29, a day after Facebook announced its name change, Chinese search-engine giant Baidu applied to trademark the term "metaapp."
- Chinese gaming giant NetEase has also filed "dozens" of trademark applications related to the metaverse, per the SCMP.
- Alibaba has also registered several trademarks, including "Ali Metaverse," related to the buzzword.
China's tech giants are acquiring metaverse-related trademarks as competition for the space heats up – even though the government has warned against the futuristic concept.
On October 29, one day after Facebook – which is banned in China – announced its name change to Meta, Chinese search-engine giant Baidu applied to trademark the term "metaapp." Baidu trademarked the term under the scientific instruments and design research categories, reported the South China Morning Post (SCMP). Baidu declined comment to Insider.
Meanwhile, Chinese gaming giant NetEase has also filed "dozens" of trademark applications related to the metaverse, reported the SCMP, citing information from Chinese business registration tracking platform Qichacha. Trademarked terms in Chinese include "NetEase metaverse" and those related to its AI and gaming units, such as "Fuxi metaverse" and "Leihuo metaverse."
The applications span various categories including design research, communications services, and education and entertainment, reported the Hong Kong newspaper. NetEase did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.
Nasdaq-listed NetEase and Baidu are not the only ones jumping on the bandwagon. Tencent and ByteDance have both taken steps into the space. Ecommerce giant Alibaba, too, has registered several trademarks, including "Ali Metaverse," related to the buzzword.
The term "metaverse" refers to shared virtual spaces that people can access via the internet using VR and AR devices. The tech buzzword was thrust into the limelight when Facebook announced its name change to Meta to reflect its focus on the concept.
More than 400 companies in China have registered trademarks for terms related to the metaverse so far, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal's Chinese edition on Wednesday.
It's a race to the forefront of the space, which Bloomberg Intelligence estimates could be worth $800 billion by 2024.
Officially though, China may not be so enthusiastic about the metaverse. In an October research note, state-run think tank China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations (CICIR), which is affiliated with China's Ministry of State Security, warned of national security issues linked to the metaverse, reported the SCMP.
"There might be regulatory gaps in areas such as anti-money-laundering, sanctions, financial supervision, and intellectual property rights protection, and this will drive the international community to explore cooperation," CICIR wrote, per the SCMP.
Last month, state-owned media outlet also Security Times cautioned against investing in the concept, which is still in its infancy.
"Investment is not a virtual game," stated the report. "Blindly investing into such grand and illusionary concepts such as the metaverse may ultimately come back to hurt your pockets."